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Lindsay Perigo: Portrait Of The Artist As A Con

- Lindsay Perigo's editorial can be heard at noon weekdays on his 'Politically Incorrect Show' on Radio Pacific

Lindsay Perigo: Portrait of the Artist as a Con


Yesterday we discussed something not worth discussing, except that you & I are paying for it - the "art work" comprising a couple of apples & a board for which the Te Papa museum has just paid $200,000. I asked the question, "Why do people allow themselves to be sucked in by such nonsense, let alone sucked dry by its purveyors?" Ayn Rand tumbled to this type of con-artistry in her novel The Fountainhead, published nearly 60 years ago. I'm going to quote a section now, in part because it's germane to yesterday's discussion, & in part because a restored & enhanced version of the Fountainhead movie is currently doing the circuits here. If you go to the movie, you'll meet Peter Keating & Ellsworth Toohey, mentioned in this quotation; you won't, unfortunately - or fortunately - meet Lois Cook:

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"Toothbrush in the jaw toothbrush brush tooth jaw foam dome in the foam Roman dome tooth toothbrush toothpick pickpocket socket rocket ..."

Peter Keating squinted his eyes, his glance unfocused as for a great distance, but put the book down. The book was thin & black, with scarlet letters forming: Clouds & Shrouds by Lois Cook. The jacket said it was a record of Miss Cook's travels around the world.

Keating leaned back with a sense of warmth & well-being. He liked this book. It had made the routine of his Sunday morning breakfast a profound spiritual experience; he was certain that it was profound, because he didn't understand it.

Peter Keating had never felt the need to formulate abstract convictions. But he had a working substitute. "A thing is not high if one can reach it; it is not great if one can reason about it; it is not deep if one can see its bottom" - this had always been his credo, unstated & unquestioned. This spared him any attempt to reach, reason or see; & it cast a nice reflection of scorn on those who made the attempt. So he was able to enjoy the work of Lois Cook. He felt uplifted by the knowledge of his own capacity to respond to the abstract, the profound, the ideal. Toohey had said: That's just it, sound as sound, the poetry of words as words, style as a revolt against style. But only the finest spirit can appreciate it, Peter."

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There's nothing I can add to this, except to qualify an earlier comment. You won't find Lois Cook in the movie version of The Fountainhead - but you WILL encounter her at Te Papa.

For Lindsay Perigo's daily "Politically Incorrect Show" editorials, visit: http://www.freeradical.co.nz or listen to Radio Pacific from noon to 2pm weekdays.

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